Terrorism

Boko Haram is nothing new

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For almost three years, myself and other intelligence analysts, working in a 10th Mountain Division battalion S2 (Security and Intelligence) produced multiple unclassified briefs for the commander concerning the Nigerian Terrorist organization known as Boko Haram.

Boko Haram recently made headlines for holding over 200 school girls captive and threatening to sell them in to slavery. 

Boko Haram was ignored by the media and the State Department, because it was not politically expedient to mention that yet another Islamist terror organization was growing in power. This year in particular Boko Haram set fired to several villages in Nigeria, destroying hundreds of houses and killing dozens of people. Boko Haram’s destruction of a Nigerian air force base in December went almost unnoticed by the media. In one report, I noted that the Nigerian government was incapable of annihilating Boko Haram and that the violence was growing more intense, despite the Nigerian government’s attempts to destroy the terror group. The group even drove an armored personnel carrier during an attack.

Yet the US State Department waited for years to place Boko Haram on its list of terror organizations. It certainly wouldn’t have fit the “al-Qaeda is on the run” narrative” that was so popular at the time, to announce to the world that a powerful terrorist group had arisen in Africa, especially during the time that America was busy obliterating the Libyan government and handing over that country’s hinterlands to brigands and jihadists, cheering the fall of Mubarak in Egypt only to see chaos reign there after his fall, and then seeing US representatives slain in the Benghazi debacle.

Sadly, this isn’t the half of the African and Asian stories, where multiple democracies are falling to pieces. The American withdrawal from the world is leaving a vacuum in its wake. As much as many dream that the world is a better place without a strong hegemon, The Coming Anarchy will see it differently. We need not, and we should not, endeavor to fix every problem with democracy, for democracy, like pie, is only as tasty as its ingredients. But the chaos that even now has begun to swallow Africa and parts of Asia will result in the deaths of thousands, and quite possibly millions. Doing something when we have the chance to stop mass killings is the responsibility of those that are given much. To do otherwise is decadence and cowardice.

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The Coming Anarchy has arrived

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Ignoring the global jihad is not going to make it go away.  In May, 2010, I wrote the blog post, The Coming Anarchy. 

Some quotes from that post:

But it is from Africa that the anarchy will spread like a blackening hole in burning parchment. Along with mass starvation (unable to be abated by the cash-strapped West), radical Islam will take an even stronger grip, seizing on the human need to destroy when basic needs are not met.  Islamic states such as Iran will gain world-wide political power again, and with the inevitable nuclear bomb in their arsenal, the West shall become a victim of its own ultimate deterrent: Mutually Assured Destruction. Only the West will face a foe more willing to assure its foe’s annihilation.

And:

But from far off, America will watch in horror as any hopes of geopolitical unanimity disintegrate.

With the devaluation of the nation state comes some blessings. It is unlikely that the horrors of full-scale industrialized war shall be visited upon Europe anytime soon. But instead of a full eruption followed by calm, we have entered a time of constant low-intensity war.

Pax Americana is coming to an end. For some it was never good enough.

I was off on a few things, believing the overpopulation bit, and subscribing to the classic Marxist belief that poverty drives all evil. I actually underestimated the power of Jihad, for Jihad’s sake.

Recent headlines are indicative that the Coming Anarchy is here. Almost all of northern Africa is now swamped by Islamism. Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood; Libya: al-Qaeda; Somalia: al-Shabab; Nigeria: Boko Haram; Algeria: al-Mua’qi’oon Biddam; Yemen: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Mali: Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. There are now hordes of semi-unified, armed, and very motivated jihadists throughout Africa.

The increased numbers of Muslims whom refuse true integration with the European countries in which they live, combined with the the increasing power of terrorist groups in Africa does not bode well for Europe. When Mali terrorists threatened to attack France in response for French intervention in Mali, they did not make idle threats.

France acted in Mali, both to protect French nationals and to subdue the very real threat that may actually spill onto the European mainland. Frighteningly,  French victory in Mali is not assured. This fight will reveal what non-American, western troops are capable of doing against the rapidly strengthening global jihad.  A loss will not bode well for the west, and that includes America. Christians are being driven from the Middle east and Africa, and as this article states:

The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.

The stupid destruction of the Libyan government is helping to fuel the Mali insurrection. Hopefully this is a lesson to the west. Islamic terrorists love a weak democracy and power vacuums.

UPDATE 22JAN2012: As I’ve said–we’re assimilating, not them. Expect more of this than ever. The white, western jihadist. 

The Evil Genius of al-Qaeda

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Reports indicate that al-Qaeda has resorted to setting forest fires in Europe.  These fires have killed scores of people and done untold property and environmental damage.

This tactic is an example of the types of attacks that former special operations commander, John Robb, writes about in his book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the end of Globalization.  The terrifying truth is that modern technology both allows individual terrorists to commit powerful attacks and also leaves nation states that employ high technology very vulnerable.  And all at very little expense to the terrorist compared the nation’s costs in defending itself.

People constantly talk about al-Qaeda et al’s lack of military power.  But, historically speaking, a large forest fire could easily destroy as much life and property as a carpet bombing campaign.  And since the terrorist’s goal is not to be precise in his targeting  but merely to cause the West to expend itself in various ways, it is a perfectly viable alternative–and much, much cheaper, than bombing.

But when a continent, such as Europe, allows the immigration of a huge population whose ideals are not compliant with its own, one could expect a lot of problems.  One thing is for sure, al-Qaeda is not going away by the world simply ignoring it.  It will take the moral authority–which means all legal powers–as well as military power to defeat this movement.  It can be defeated, just as Nazism and Communism were defeated (Can’t kill an idea, you say?).  In the case of Communism it took decades, just as it will with militant Salafism.  It is important that 1)  the West retain the moral high ground (which should be difficult against the likes of al-Qaeda), (2) never enable the duplicitous nations of the Middle East and Central Asia (as we’ve done with Pakistan and Afghanistan) and (4) firmly state what the west stands for juxtaposed against what al-Qaeda stands for.  And finally, (4) we should kill or capture every terrorist we can, not try to find complex ways to turn him into something other than a terrorist.  The best way to change the mind of a terrorist is through superior firepower.

Hezbollah sleeper cells and imminent war in the Middle East

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The Israeli Minister of Defense recently stated that Israel is prepared for 30 days of war with Iran. In fact, a shadow war, but a very real war never the less, has been ongoing between the two countries for months, with real people being killed by very real government-backed means.

Within the last year, at least 3 Iranian scientists who were working on Iran’s nuclear power program were assassinated.  Bombs exploded in their cars, killing them.  And there was the massively powerful cyberweapon, known as STUXNET, deployed against Iranian nuclear research facilities.  In what appears to be reprisals, terrorists targeted Israelis around the world in places like India, Georgia, and most recently in Bulgaria.  In this case, a suicide bomber walked onto a bus full of Israeli tourists and parked near an airport terminal , then detonated, killing 5 Israelis.  The bombing occurred in a popular Israeli vacation resort near the Black Sea.   Bulgarian domestic security released a video which shows the suspected suicide bomber walking inside the airport.  He is dressed in very casual western style clothing and has a light complexion.  I posted a video of the suspected bomber, below.

As a former law enforcement officer and current intelligence analyst I find the video and the overall bombing very disturbing for several reasons.  First, the bomber’s body language is staggeringly deceptive, offering no clues as to his true intent.  The man obviously received professional training, most probably from Iranian Quds Force and/or Hezbollah.  The man’s gait, posture and clothing are carefully crafted so as to defeat most attempts at profiling.  Secondly, the complexity of this operation was quite extensive.  The bomber had to penetrate an Eastern European country’s domestic security, most likely constructing the bomb there.  The bomber also looks very Western in complexion and mannerism.  Thirdly, a group of Israeli tourists had to be targeted and stalked.  This is different from an operation in which a high profile individual is targeted for assassination.  In that case it is quite simple to know where the high profile person will be, since he or she will be preceded by media reports, has a well known face, and may have an attached security detail.  This operation required extensive surveillance and testing of the existing security systems.  Also, the bomber possessed a fake Michigan driver’s license. 

Fake Michigan driver’s license found at bomb scene
Sketch of suspected suicide bomber in Bulgaria

All of this raises the question as to what Hezbollah has in store for Israel and America should Israel preemptively strike.  Readers should have no doubt that Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, has placed sleeper cells around the world that are ready to “wake up” should they be called to action.  Though some of them already struck in response to the deaths of Iranian scientists and the STUXNET cyberweapon, it is logical to assume that Iran is holding back a considerable number of suicide bombers and saboteurs so as to control the political aspects of a future war.  It is an established fact that Hezbollah operates an organised crime ring in America, with million of dollars having been funneled to groups in Lebanon.[1]  Iran is the world’s foremost practitioner of 4th Generation Warfare.  Anyone who believes that this type of warfare is ineffective should consider the fact that Iran remained the number one state supporter of terrorism for decades without, until recently, sanctions leveled against it.  Iran has continued on the path of nuclear weapons without a single shot fired against it by the United States.  Iran has held hostage British sailors while parading them on camera against international law.  The Iranian government plotted the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, without any repercussions, not even a strongly worded letter.  Iran provided fighters, bomb makers and Explosively Formed Projectiles  (EFPs) capable of slicing through the toughest of American armor, to insurgents in the Iraq war.  The American government willfully took no action against Iran despite knowing its government was killing American Soldiers. In some cases, American intelligence networks were told to avoid collecting information that proved Iranian complicity in American deaths.[2]  Iran also continues to sow chaos and discord in Iraq, forcing Iraqi prime minister Maliki to form an alliance with the Iranian regime.

There is simply no other way to interpret the lack of assertive action against Iran by the United States other than that the US government  is afraid of Iran.  The fact that the most powerful nation in history is scared of a country like Iran shows the effectiveness of 4G Warfare.  Iran knows it cannot win in a stand up fight against America.  It doesn’t need to, because the American government has little real idea of how to deal with 4th Generation fighters.  American politicians are far more concerned with polls and elections than the lives of American servicemen, otherwise the Iranians would have been taken care of years ago.  Terrorism targets public opinion and every terrorist loves a polling booth.  The proliferation of useful idiots who think that America can negotiate its way out of every bad situation has done nothing but empower Iran’s 4G warriors.

The Middle East is teetering on the edge of war.  The new Egyptian government openly states it is considering violating its peace treaty with Israel, Lebanon and Syria are in chaos, and Iran rushes toward obtaining the ultimate weapon while promising the destruction of Israel.  But perhaps most troubling is the lack of commitment from America as to which side it is on.  Our collapsing culture and post-modern morals  blind our government at a time when moral clarity is imperative

[1] Emerson, Steven, Jihad Incorporated”, pages 219-227, Prometheus Books, 2006

[2] O’hern, Steven, K. “The Intelligence Wars”, Chapter 4: Iran’s Shadow Falls Over Iraq, Prometheus Books, 2008

Islam’s Last Man

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“War is a force that gives us meaning”~Chris Hedges

At some subliminal level, there is the belief that the world is peaceful, now, and in fact the numbers bear this out.  There is less mass killing going on today than at any time in recorded history.

But why?  There are some that believe that there is less killing because of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History”. The basic argument being that democracy has trumped war.    At a deeper level, Fukuyama’s little understood theory states that people in democratic societies become ever more self-absorbed, and eventually lose any taste for war.  They become what he calls, “Last Men”.   Fukuyama’s theory took a severe beating from everyone (including myself), both on the Left and Right.  The people on the Left, ears perked because of Fukuyama’s self-proclaimed Neo Conservative views, believed that he was condoning the forceful application of democracy. Those on the Right scoffed when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and asked, where is your Last Man now?

At its core, Fukuyama’s argument is that of Hegel (why always Hegel?).  He believes that history and man are evolving and that we have essentially found our social Holy Grail: Liberal Democracy.  Democracy, he says, fulfills the understated need of Man–the need to be recognized.  Whereas the easiest way for a man to earn recognition in the ancient world was to become a warlord, now, a vote can provide “shadow recognition”.

But wait.  Just when we think Fukuyama is advocating a purposeful journey to the Last Man, he shifts his argument to that of Nietzsche.  When we get there, when we’ve achieved a state of peace and comfort, we feel no passion.  Nietzsche argued that war is a manifestation of man’s desire for passion and danger.  This flies in the face of the commonly held view that war occurs because of class disparities and economic reasons, which is the Marxist view, and in fact, the view held by many on the Right in the United States.  Fukuyama  recognizes the emptiness at the end of liberal democracy’s road.  We are the dog who’s caught the car. Now what?  Nietzsche recognised  the human need to not only be fed, but to feel energized.  Why else would people do such things as bungie-jumping, extreme sky-diving, and dangerous mountain climbing? Or simply playing a pickup game of basketball or engaging in political argument for that matter.

Where we have gone critically wrong however, is in leaving the liberal out of liberal democracy when it comes to events such as the Arab Spring.  What do we mean by liberal in this sense? Essentially it comes down to a belief in Lockean ideals.  The idea that humans have fundamental rights, regardless of where they are born.  And where do those fundamental rights come from? For Locke and America’s founding fathers, they came from God.  In today’s postmodern world, there is no fundamental reason for inalienably rights. Where do they come from?  Apparently from nowhere.

So there are the fatal flaws of a liberal democracy.  A lack of meaning and fervor.  The Left, eternally beholden to the idea that crime, terrorism,  and most of the ills of the modern world are linked to joblessness or working conditions, does not fathom the importance that radical Islam plays in enervating and providing the chance to be noticed for a young Muslim man.

As the Libyan, Egyptian, and other Arab governments fell, and the Syrian government still holds in the balance, the zeitgeist of economic determinism gave secular Westerners hope.  Striding from the shadows of despotism, true believers saw Islam’s Last Man.  that somehow Big Macs would overcome fanaticism.  Only a person who has ordered too much fast food but never read a page of Joshua would really believe such a thing.   At its roots, this belief is a denial that Islam in inherently dangerous or aggressive.  It is a belief–a hope–that Islam is just another religion.

Fukuyama states, in the ending of his original essay on the matter:

The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed. Such nostalgia, in fact, will continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world for some time to come. Even though I recognize its inevitability, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its north Atlantic and Asian offshoots. Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.

But for many in the world, history is just beginning. For millions of people around the world, fighting and killing is still the most meaningful thing they will ever do.  All the better if the killing guarantees paradise.  No amount of Super Sized meals or economic opportunity will change this.  And while a vote can give a person a sense of recognition and power, it can also enrage him if the person he voted for doesn’t get elected.  While it is easy to believe that people like Mubarak held millions under his boot, a closer look will reveal a horde of jihadists that he’d imprisoned to maintain order.  It is the same in Saudi Arabia and it will be the same again in Iraq.  No secular government can survive in the Arab world without maintaining a police state.  We can educate the ideological, and we’ll have a smarter terrorist.  All of the 9-11 conspirators were educated.  We can give the ideological a job, and then he will have money to buy AK-47s.  We can provide him with free health care, and then he’ll receive treatment after blowing his fingers off while making a bomb in his basement.

In fact, the world is still a very dangerous place.  At no time in history has a single man been capable of so much destruction.  Once a single  zealot could only raise a sword in defiance.  Now he can plant a single bomb containing VX gas in a sports stadium and kill 40,000 people in 30 minutes. A single man can move from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours, whereas it used to take years. The breakup of the Soviet empire and the dissolving of other regimes has spread weapons to the four winds.  States such as Iran and Pakistan routinely use terrorism to achieve political goals.  And even supposedly reformed Russia routinely takes steps to hinder America, supporting blatantly insane regimes like Syria and Iran.    And though al-Qaeda has suffered a series of strategic defeats, it is nonetheless a potent entity, far from dead.  

Now Egypt has elected a Muslim fundamentalist as president, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Though Morsi talks a good game, promising to honor all Egypt’s peace agreements, analysts, such as myself will watch his actions more closely than his words.  Morsi promises to work to free from prison Omar Abdel-Rahman, “The Blind Sheik”, who is convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Rahman is a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist to the core.  Morsi has called Israeli leaders “vampires” and “killers.” It seems that even if Morsi plans to run a  truly democratic country, Egypt is destined to become a safe haven for terrorists.   Already, two weeks ago, a group of terrorists moved from the Sinai Peninsula and killed several Israeli citizens.  It is not difficult to image Egypt, still psychologically distraught by defeats at the hand of Israel, could use proxy-terror armies similar to Hezbollah to attack Israel.

In any event, it is doubtful that Morsi is Islam’s Last Man.  MacDonalds and the internet have done little to stem the tide of Islamism.  In fact, never before has Islamic extremism been so mainstream.   The new model is political Islam.  Islamists realize they cannot rule a country by merely blowing everything up.  That is the Abu Zarqawi model.  But in these regions, in Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and Syria, the jihadist is gaining ground.   My tepid prediction is that the next 20 years will not be pretty.  And the last 5 have not been very comely either.

Pictures of the dead

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Yet again, our glorious and supremely eloquent counterinsurgency strategy stands to be liquidated by the foolishness of our troops in Afghanistan.

Really?  Photos, published by the LA Times,  depict soldiers posing with the remains of a suicide bomber who’d just tried to kill them.  Is it the burning Korans and photos of dead terrorists that’s causing us to lose this war, or is the strategy itself the problem?

Let me be clear that the soldiers did wrong.  The photos (2 years old, I may add) should not have been taken for the purposes of personal collections.  Why? Because it’s the rule.  Mostly, just because it’s the rule and soldiers follow orders.  A breakdown in the ability of troops to follow the rules results in a mob, not a professional army.

But it was not the soldiers who killed the dead terrorist.  He killed himself while trying to kill them.  Do we feel the same way about photos photos taken of dead robbers and criminals in the Old West?

How about photos of gangsters and miscreants from the 20’s and 30s? Remember Bonnie and Clyde?

Michael Yon wrote an article saying we shouldn’t blame the media.   He’s right.  The Soldiers are the first cause of this problem.  But how big of a problem is it?

American soldiers in WWII mailed the skulls of dead Japanese back to their ladies:

And frankly, the sight of the dead insurgent is the historical tool used by rulers to crush uprisings.  Ask the Romans and Vlad Drakul.  Hiding the results of being a terrorist doesn’t help our cause.  The message to all young Afghan and Pakistani males should be that this is what you look like when you strap on a bomb and try to murder people.

Let’s get real.  This is not an atrocity.  This is soldiers breaking an administrative rule.  There should be no talk of kicking them out of the military.  And, the soldier who gave the photos to the LA Times is a weasel.  If he were so concerned, he should have given the photos to his chain of command–years ago.  We need a little more outrage aimed at the culture that breeds these self-immolating haters.  In any event, don’t ask me or other soldiers to like the people that are trying to kill us.  Blog and talk bravely of our philosophy, and cultural sensitivity and all that, but just don’t ask us to hug the dude trying to take me from my kids.  Maybe 10 years from now, but not now.

I’ve spent more time in Afghanistan than most.  I worked along side young soldiers every day.   I never once saw anything like this.  I did not witness any heroic deeds, though there are many in the last ten years that have become heroes.  But I did witness an incredible adherence to duty, to getting the job done, day in, day out, under very uncomfortable circumstances. 20 year old men doing whatever was asked of them, going without real sleep or hot food for days, sleeping in trucks waiting for a car bomb to drive up.  Being dirty for a week at a time.  To say that these photos depict some sort of evil culture within the military is just plain stupid.

Paul Krugman: Repugnant

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Paul Krugman penned a spectacularly awful article in the New York Times regarding 9-11.  He has outdone himself as a left-wing zealot whose hatred of America bleeds into his vitriolic episodes.

I myself do not like sloganism in regards to 9-11 or much else.  It violates a law of good writing:  avoid the cliche’.  But Krugman’s articles border on the insane to me.  His ideas on economics are ludicrous.  Interestingly, Krugman disabled all comments on the article.

Donald Rumsfeld tweeted that he was cancelling his subscription to the New York Times over Krugman’s article.  I encourage everyone else to do the same.

To those who died in the Towers, on Flight 93 and the Pentagon 10 years ago:  I salute, honor and remember you.  And to those who have and will die fighting the global insurgency called al-Qaeda, you could give no more.